The bombings in Boston carried out by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev brought the United States and Russia a smidgeon closer. Few are betting the goodwill will last long. Nevertheless, the bombing was a reminder the two continental empires share a common cause against terrorism. But that is not all. The brothers’ Tsarnaev’s terrorist attack also proved that when faced with uncanny events, some Americans and Russians turn to conspiracy for an exegesis.
Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? According to a recent paper, conspiracy thinking helps “reinstall a sense of order and predictability in the aftermath of threatening societal events” by explaining and rationalizing “complex real-world phenomena into a coherent set of assumptions about the existence of a powerful and evil enemy.” Put simply, conspiracist ideation is a means to put a chaotic, complex, and unpredictable world back into a comprehensible and moral order. Conspiracy thinking provides psychological comfort.
Faculty Spotlight on the University of Pittsburgh’s historian of Russia and Central Asia–James Pickett.